I usually remember her birthday, of course, because she's my Mom, but also because I served as a her primary caregiver for the last 13 years of her life; as I did for my Dad in his later years.
But more than serving as her caregiver, I was her best friend and she was mine. She was also most likely my adopted-daughter.
Clearly, caring for a parent in their later years may be defined in several different ways.
That said, I was just plain shocked that I forgot that it was my Mom's birthday on Monday, November 4. I had recently moved so I just chalked it my memory issue to the "moving" stress.
Fortunately, on that Monday, November 4, my cousin Marie emailed me with the subject line, “Happy Birthday, Aunt Frances!”
Grateful, I went to Monday morning mass at S. Finbar’s Church in Burbank.
My Mom loved going to Church – and she made me love it, too…which I do to his day.
So, it was fitting that I attended Mass on her birthday and say a special prayer for her.
It was then the "awareness miracles" began to unfold.
November 4 happened to be All-Saints Day.
Banners of each saint were draped around the church.
Interestingly, the banner of St. Francis of Assisi was draped across the lectern and podium in front of the church.
I took that as a "hello" from my Mom, because she jokingly used to refer to herself as "St. Frances," spelling the name differently, of course, in the feminine. I, myself, sometimes refer to her that way, adding her maiden name of "Turri" to the moniker, and calling her, "St. Frances of Turri"!
Anyway, I still found it quite intriguing how the St. Francis banner ended up at the lectern, instead of any of the other saints.
I wondered, if November 4 held any particular significance in the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
A call into the rectory of St. Finbar’s Church clarified the assumption: no – it was not the birthday of St. Francis, but “Francis” did happen to be the name of our new pastor at St. Finbar’s (not to mention that "Francis" is the name of the our new Pope in Rome!); and he mused that his staff had placed the banner of St. Francis of Assisi at the lectern in his honor.
The following week, the day after I hosted an NBC Page Reunion, on Wednesday, November 13, I felt compelled to attend mass once more....for no particular reason except to give thanks for what I believed was a great party and gathering of good friends.
In general, since moving to Burbank in March, it's been my goal to attend Mass every day, as my first apartment in Burbank - on Myers Street - was just across the street or so from St. Finbar's. But now that I moved to Buena Vista Street near Olive Avenue, the Church is somewhat further from where I live.
Either way, I try to make it to mass on at least a semi-regular basis, on Sunday or any day during the week...whether it's an ordinary day or a special day.
So, as I said, I went to mass on Wednesday, November 13.
Upon arrival at the Church, Father Francis, the pastor said is the feast day of another saint St. Frances of Grabini.
I’m like, “Oh, come on!”
So I smiled again - as I had on November 4, once more receiving yet another hello from my Mom.
But then I kept receiving more "hellos."
As I looked around the church, there seemed to be a numerous amount of newborn infants with their mother. Usually, there's one or two during a Sunday mass....but to have three or four during a weekday mass was...well...unique to say the least.
And these babies were everywhere...I looked to the right...there was a Mom and her baby; to the left...another Mom and her baby...in front of me...a Mom and her baby...to the back of me...a Mom and her baby.
This time, I didn't just smile, I almost laughed out-loud.
Not only did my Mom absolutely love babies (she used to bless them and children with her rosary whenever she'd see one), but the last time I took her to St. Cecilia's Church (in Rochester, New York, our hometown), she was in the later stages of dementia; and the priest was baptizing a new baby in the parish.
So, as the priest stood at the podium, and said, "Let's us welcome a new baby to our parish."
Well, at that point, my Mom turned around and said aloud, "Baby?! I don't see no baby!"
And everyone on our side of the church just burst-out laughing. They knew my Mom was having perceptual issues, and we all just smiled in joyful acceptance of her condition.
Either way, back to last Wednesday, November 13th at St. Finbar's Church in Burbank, I took seeing all those babies as yet another hello from my Mom, this time with a "wink."
And I left the church, smiling....thinking, of course, that I would not "hear" from my Mom for a while.
But, such was not the case.
I saw and heard her again in several other amazing ways.
After Church, I went to the bank to make a deposit.
I arrived in at 8:50 AM. The bank opens at 9:00 AM, but the bank manager let me in early.
Banks don't do that. Like the post office or the DMV, banks open when they open - and not before.
Except, apparently, for me - on Wednesday, November 13.
I don’t like waiting in line for the bank to open…(who does?)…but since the mass at St. Finbar's was longer than usual, I was willing to wait until the bank opened.
But upon arrival at the bank, I didn't have to wait at all.
Then - I went to the supermarket…to get some muffins....apple-cinnamon - my favorite.
And once in the bakery department, there they were. So I bought a whole box of 'em.
And then I noticed that my favorite green drink, which is usually sold-out, was in giant supply.
So, I bought a ton of those, too.
Thanks, again, Mom!
St. Frances of Turri was clearly working her miracles.
And really? Miracles happen every day to each of us. We just have to be open to them...to be mindful...and to look for those laughing-crying "babies"!